How to be an Everyday Mentor with Ted Ma

Everyday Mentorship with Leadership Strategist Ted Ma

On this week’s episode of the Leadership Habit Podcast, Jenn DeWall welcomes Mentorship Mindset expert Ted Ma to discuss how to be an everyday mentor. Mentorship is the key to creating a better, more empowered, confident and effective workforce. Tune in to find out how to make mentorship a routine part of your work day!

Meet Ted Ma, Leadership Strategist, Author and International Keynote Speaker

Ted Ma has been coaching leaders for over 20 years. In his previous career, he built and led a sales team of over 6,000 independent agents. His work has been featured in publications, including USA Today, Kiplinger, and Inc. He is also a Crestcom L.E.A.D.R. subject matter expert featured in two modules dealing with emotional intelligence, mental agility, and resilience. 

What is an Everday Mentor? 

As the episode opens, Jenn introduces Ted and welcomes him to the podcast. Then, Jenn dives right into the topic, asking Ted to explain what an everyday mentor is. 

Ted explains, “ Excellent question. What I love about everyday mentorship is that all of us, so not only the listeners here but people that you are teaching and coaching, whether they’re business owners or budding entrepreneurs or maybe even people that work within a company, is the premise is anybody can become a mentor regardless of their position. 

So becoming an everyday mentor is using our daily interactions to guide and support other people. Regardless of what our title is, there are a few key actions that we see everyday mentors take. And there are some key traits that are really important because, as we all know, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.

It’s not always just what you do but the way that you do it. So how you show up as a mentor, a professional, an entrepreneur, or a leader is so important that if you do the actions without embracing and embodying the characteristics of great mentors, then the actions will fall flat.”

Jenn agrees and shares that it is unfortunate that many organizations fail to organize a formal mentorship program, and asks Ted to explain why building these relationships is so important in today’s workplace. 

Why is the Mentoring Experience So Important in Today’s Workplace? 

Ted replies, “I’m gonna give you two answers to that question. The first one is the numbers speak for themselves. And not only the numbers we’re probably familiar with about the value of mentoring in general but what I did back in 2021 is I hired a national research company, and we actually did a deep dive and surveyed over a thousand working professionals here in the US, and we asked them some very poignant questions about the impact of mentorship in their careers. 

Here are some high-level findings that we found:

Number one, 71% of people said that their performance improved as a result of a mentoring relationship at work. So seven out of 10, over two-thirds of people said they were more engaged at work as a result of a mentoring relationship. 

For all the organizations that are really struggling with retention in today’s world and are looking to develop this devoted, talented workforce, the number one outcome of a mentoring relationship, according to employees, was an increase in loyalty to their company. So it’s a huge business case in terms of the metrics there. 

But the other piece that’s important for all of us to understand is that mentoring isn’t always this traditional relationship where you have to be in a formal structured program where the person has to be a senior to a junior person. That’s the traditional arrangement we think of. But we found through our research that informal mentoring is just as powerful or, in some cases, even more powerful than a formal structured mentoring program.”

The Mentor-Mentee Relationship Vs. Manager-Employee Relationship

Later, Jenn asks Ted about the difference between a mentoring relationship and having a coach or just a normal manager-to-employee relationship. 

Ted shares his view, saying, “Coaching is a great tool in the tool belt that mentors and managers can use because coaching helps people learn a specific skill or practice. Mentorship differentiates from coaching or even from management in that it’s more holistic. 

So a manager may focus on tasks that need to be achieved or objectives that have to be accomplished, whereas a mentor focuses on the overall development of the person. A manager is typically going to provide answers to questions that come up, but a mentor will ask questions of the mentee that help to inspire self-reflection. 

So are we just providing solutions, or are we challenging people to get better? And there’s nothing wrong with management. Sometimes management gets a bad rap, but managers and leaders have very distinct characteristics that differentiate them from mentors because of their focus. Mentors, when they focus on deepening the relationship with the individual and the growth and development of the whole person, provide a different lens that lends itself to different behaviors.”

Learning from the Anti-Mentor

As Jenn and Ted begin to discuss the traits of a successful mentor, Ted explains that even if you never had your own mentor, you probably have had an anti-mentor who taught you what not to do. 

“Some of our listeners are thinking to themselves, well, this all sounds great, Ted and Jenn, I love what you all are talking about, but I’ve never had a great mentor in my life. So how can I step into that role? I wanna talk to that person for a minute because one of the types of mentorship that I didn’t mention earlier is the anti-mentor. 

So if you’ve ever worked for somebody that’s the opposite of what you envision a mentor being, we would classify that person as an anti-mentor. There are key lessons that you can learn from that individual because I work for managers and leaders, as many of us have, where I said, I will never do what this person is doing to me right now to someone on my team, or I will never make the people that I lead feel the way that this individual is making me feel right now.”

6 Traits of an Everyday Mentor

Then, Ted Ma shares explains that an everyday mentor is:  

  1. A Role Model
  2. Trustworthy
  3. Lifelong Learner
  4. Active Listener
  5. Empathetic
  6. Patient

For anyone wanting to improve their mentorship skills, he suggests rating yourself on those six characteristics to discover which traits you need to work more on. 

Where to Find More from Ted Ma

To learn why these six traits are so important and how you can strengthen them in yourself and your team, be sure to listen to the full episode! Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about Ted Ma, you can connect with him here: 

Check out his latest research, speaking programs, books and more! And if you want to learn more about Crestcom L.E.A.D.R., our comprehensive 24-module leadership development program, you can find a trainer in your area here: Get Started